Month: February 2019

The Old Dirty Snowball


Here is the fourth episode of Cathy Hill’s Mad Raccoons in “Raccoons On The Moon”. In the last episode, the Raccoons visited Mons Olympus crater on Mars and visited the lonely old lava, bubbling over with attempted jokes. In their search for the Meaning Of Life, Mons was very little help, so the Racc-it ship ventured over to Titan, one of the moons of Saturn and intercepted Halley’s Comet. The Old Dirty Snowball didn’t have any clues to the Meaning Of Life either, he didn’t take Life seriously enough to be helpful. He tosses the Raccoons another clue: the Meaning Of Life is known by the Windsongs of Neptune, on the Singing Plains of Neptune. So we leave the Silver Masked Tenors (Raccoons) on the Singing Plains until the concluding episode, next time. I love the drawing and delicate ink lines as Halley’s comet zooms through space, spats and all, and the Windsongs of Neptune speak in beautifully lettered words, resting on musical staffs. You can imagine the haunting sounds of their speech, as if in an astral echo chamber with John Cage tunes bouncing about.

Here’s Felix from 7-3 to 7-9-1933. Felix is still the mascot of Danny Dooit’s team, the Midget Giants, but the team keeps racking up goose eggs, sometimes in the form of donuts. Felix is convinced he’s a jinx and a flop as a mascot, so he tries to talk Bill the Goat into taking his place. But Bill refuses, saying “All the games are lost, now you want me to be the GOAT!” In the Sunday, Felix blows soap bubbles with Mr. Dooit’s pipe to amuse Danny’s baby brother. Felix barely manages to keep out of Papa’s way as he’s still blowing bubbles in the last panel. This strip could have been the basis for an animated cartoon story, lots of chances for bubble effects.

Myrtle is from 4-4 to 4-10-1949 this time. I like the continuity of the 4-4 through 4-6 dailies as Sampson tries to play his harmonica to amuse Myrtle’s Dad, Freddie. The 4-8 is a good gag with Bingo hitting up the Dog Pound for a snack, but the 4-9 is my favorite gag of the batch, as Myrtle puts on makeup for school and the teacher, Miss Flunkem is so impressed that instead of punishing Myrtle, she runs back to Susie’s house to ask Myrtle’s mom where she got the beautiful shade of lipstick! The Sunday has the usual inventive staging as Freddie tries to rescue Sampson’s kite from the top of a spindly tree. I like the little touch in the second panel as we just barely glimpse the neighbor’s shoe in the upper right corner, clinging to the roof.

Krazy’s dailies this week are from 9-6 to 9-13-1943. Garge was thinking of Kate Smith and her theme song (“When the Moon Comes Over The Mountain”) in the 9-6 to 9-8. I love the drawing of the Moon squeezing under the mountain in the 9-6. Garge gets a little obscure in the 9-10 and 9-11 strips as Ignatz mixes Krazy up with pronouns in the tree top and a little Scotty dog puts a lamp chimney over his pipe (for economy?).  The 9-13 strip, in which the Kat sings, from the old song “Father, Dear Father Come Home With Me Now”: “The Clog in the Stipple strikes ‘One'” shows Herriman’s technique of scratching into the ink in the last panel, to create the white line of Ignatz’s tail. The 9-14 is pretty obscure as Garge refers to Russian pianists, as Pupp refers to himself as “Jasha Puppsha” and then runs off exclaiming “Ooy, Tchin-Dee!!!”, frightened as Ignatz emerges from the top of the piano. In the 9-16, Krazy seems to speak “Ettskimmo”. In the 9-17 Ignatz plays the bars of his Jail cell like a harp, and in the 9-18, Krazy trips up over sound-alike words as he confuses “Cane” with “Kane”.


KURT KAUSLER R.I.P.  My readers and friends, it’s very hard to tell you that my younger brother, Kurt, passed away on January 24th, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri in front of his fireplace–his bulldog Gracie at his side. He lived to be 67. His dear girlfriend Linda discovered him there at about 8:30 AM, having left him at his house the previous evening at about 6PM. You can see by the photo above, taken about 1958, that Kurt and I were an odd couple of brothers. We may have been some of the “original geeks”–very fond of history, books, comic books and animated cartoons among many other things. We used to fight each other a lot as kids, inspired (to my Mother’s horror) by the Popeye cartoons shown on the local St. Louis TV program: “Cookie and the Captain”. Most of the fights ended when I sat on poor Kurt, being heavier than he was. Kurt was of a more serious turn of mind than I was. As you can tell from the photo. Look at his natty outfit, and look at my wrinkled, dirty pants with the soiled knees. I probably had Pinky Lee on my mind, with the pork pie hat, and Kurt may have had Clark Gable or Ronald Colman in mind with his neat hat with the little feather.

Kurt ended life as a scholar, treasured by the family of James Hilton. The Hiltons told Kurt that he knew more about the famous author of Lost Horizon and Goodbye, Mr. Chips, than they did. Kurt spent years tracking down James Hilton’s early novels and arranging for them to be reprinted, and dug out just about every newspaper and magazine article Mr. Hilton ever wrote from library collections all over the USA and England. Even though Kurt was about three years younger than I, he was YEARS older in maturity, often giving me “fatherly” advice. He LOOKED older too, due to a case of childhood polio–which warped his spine just enough to put a small hump on his back. He often referred to himself as “Quasi”, and walked with a cane for years.

The little drawing below is one of Kurt’s. He did a long series of these, featuring his patented stick figure mouse characters. This was one of the last, drawn on a Christmas card envelope in 2017. The text reads: “You’re Kidding! There’s a model sheet? For US? Who else draws like this, Munro Leaf? And how come that idiot hunchback makes us look different every year? I DEMAND ANSWERS!…and an opposable thumb would Be Nice….” I think I drew a model sheet of “Mickey Mark” and wife for Kurt, sadly I don’t have a copy. (“Mickey Mark” was the name of the stick figure character and one of Kurt’s nicknames for me.)  I also did a gag bookplate for him in 2017, featuring his stick figure mouse and Freddy the Pig, who was one of Kurt’s favorite children’s book characters (reproduced below). “Munro Leaf” was another children’s book author, who illustrated his books with simple matchstick drawings of children. “Manners Can Be Fun” and “Safety Can Be Fun” by Mr. Leaf are still in print; he also wrote the famous “Ferdinand the Bull” story which he DIDN’T illustrate. Kurt loved to make fun of himself, so he calls himself “an idiot hunchback” who couldn’t draw his mice the same way twice. His comment “an opposable thumb would Be Nice…” is a slyly humorous admission that he couldn’t draw HANDS.

    Kurt was a very big part of my life. I already miss him more than I can ever convey, we shared so many likes and experiences. I will try to tell more anecdotes about Kurt in future posts, in the hope that the memories won’t completely disappear. Kurt was a “rock star” of a writer, as Linda Kraft (Kurt’s girlfriend) observed. He wrote beautiful English and did many articles about his heroes, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Colman, Clark Gable and especially James Hilton. In spite of many health challenges, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, polio, cancer of the neck and heart disease which required the installation of a defibrillator, Kurt kept as active as he could; doing yard work, and walking his bulldogs for miles. Rest in Peace my brother, I’m thinking of you and love you. There will be more stories about Kurt later, as the Catblog meows along.

(Remember, to see the pictures larger, right click on an image and click “Open in New Window”.  The images will appear in a different window, and by clicking on the image in the new window, you will see them larger.)

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